ABOUT TAMIL NEW YEAR


Tamil New Year

  •  Type:

    Cultural

  •  Duration:

    14/04/2017

  •  Location:

    Tamil Nadu


Puthandu also known as Puthuvarusham or Tamil New Year, is the first day of year on the Tamil calendar. The festival date is set with the solar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, as the first day of the Tamil month Chithirai. It therefore almost always falls on or about 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar. The same day is observed by Hindus elsewhere as the traditional new year, but is known by other names such as Vishu in Kerala, and Vaisakhi in central and north India.

On this day, Tamil people greet each other by saying "Puttantu Valttukkal! or " Iniya puttantu nalvalttukkal!" which is equivalent to "Happy new year".The day is observed as a family time. Households clean up the house, prepare a tray with fruits, flowers and auspicious items, light up the family Puja altar and visit their local temples. People wear new clothes and youngster go to elders to pay respects and seek their blessings, then the family sits down to a vegetarian feast.

Puthandu is also celebrated by Tamil Hindus outside Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, such as in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Reunion, Mauritius and other countries with Tamil Diaspora.

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Mesha Sankranti or Sankranthi 2017

Mesha Sankranti is also known as Maha Vishuva Sankranti. According to Vedic astrology on this day the Sun enters Mesha Rashi or Aries Zodiac. This day marks the beginning of the New Year in most Hindu Solar Calendars.

Various Solar calendars followed in India e.g. Oriya calendar, Tamil Calendar, Malayalam Calendar and Bengali Calendar mark the first day of the year (or Vishu Kani for Malayalam calendar) based on Mesha Sankranti. Solar calendars follow different rules to mark the first day of the year depending on exact time of the Sankranti.

In Tamil Nadu when Sankranti takes place after sunrise and before sunset the year begins on the same day. If Sankranti takes place after sunset then the year begins on the following day. Mesha Sankranti is celebrated as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.

Origin and significance

The Tamil New Year follows the vernal equinox and generally falls on 14 April of the Gregorian year. 14 April marks the first day of the traditional Tamil calendar and is a public holiday in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The Tropical vernal equinox falls around 22 March, and adding 23 degrees of trepidation or oscillation provides the Hindu sidereal transition or Nirayana Mesha Sankranti (the solar transition into the constellation of Aries).

The Tamil calendar thus begins on the same date observed by most traditional calendars in India as in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Mithila, Odisha, Punjab, Tripura, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma,Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The 60-year cycle is ancient and is observed by most traditional calendars of India and China, and is related to 5 revolutions of Jupiter, or to 60-year orbit of Nakshatras (stars) as described in the Surya Siddhanta.

Description of Tamil New Year

The Tamil New Year which usually falls on April 14th is an occasion that calls for celebration for Tamilians all over the world. Tamilaians from different sphere of the society come forward to take part in this celebration.This is supposedly the day when Lord Brahma (the Creator of the world, according to Hindu mythology) started creation. People exchange greetings of 'Puthandu Vazthukal' (Happy New Year) with great fervor on this day.

The Tamil New Year day begins with viewing the 'kanni' (the auspicious sight) at dawn, out of the expectation that starting the New Year by looking at auspicious things will bring good luck all through the year. The auspicious things include gold and silver jewelry, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. It is followed by people taking a ritual bath and then they visit the temple to pray for a happy and prosperous New Year. After this, the Panchangam (almanac) is read.

During the Tamil New Year celebrations, women decorate the entrance to their houses with 'kolam' (design made with rice flower), and adorn the doorway with mango leaves. Every year on Tamil New Year, a grand car festival is held at Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam. The month of Chitthirai also witnesses the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundereswarar, which is celebrated as Chitthirai Festival.

The highlight of Tamil New Year Festival in Tamil Nadu is the 'Maanga Pachadi' (a dish made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers), which tastes sweet, sour and bitter at the same time. This signifies the various aspects of our lives.

Celebration

Tamil people celebrate Tamil new year on 14 April. This is the month of Chitterai, the first month of the Tamil solar calendar. On the eve of Puthandu, a tray arranged with three fruits (mango,banana and jack fruit), betel leaves and arecanut, gold/silver jewellery, coins/money, flowers and a mirror is placed. This is to be viewed upon waking in the morning. In the temple city of Madurai, theChitterai Thiruvizha is celebrated in the Meenakshi Temple. A huge exhibition is held, called Chitterai Porutkaatchi. In some parts of Southern Tamil Nadu, it is called Chittirai Vishu. The day is marked with a feast in Tamil homes and entrances to the houses are decorated elaborately with kolams. In most parts of India, one can see neem trees blooming with their flowers and the first batch of mangoes hanging prominently. This day is celebrated by some communities with neem flowers and raw mangoes to symbolize growth and prosperity.

On the day of Tamil New Year, a big Car Festival is held at Tiruvidaimarudur near Kumbakonam. Festivals are also held atTiruchirapalli, Kanchipuram and many other places.

Sri Lankan Tamils observe the traditional new year in April with the first financial transaction known as the 'Kai-vishesham' where elders gift money to the unmarried young, particularly children as a token of good luck. The event is also observed with the 'arpudu' or the first ploughing of the ground to prepare for the new agricultural cycle. The 'punya-kaalam' or auspicious time when the sun reportedly shifts from Meena raasi to Mesha raasi is considered ideal to commence new activities on a favorable note. Sri Lankan Tamils begin the year with a herbal bath with 'maruthu-neer' with ingredients for good health. The game of 'por-thenkai' or coconut wars between youth is played in villages through the Tamil north and east of the island while cart races are also held.
The festive Puthandu season in April is a time for family visits and the renewal of filial bonds.
It coincides with the Sinhalese new year season.

In Malaysia and Singapore, Tamils join Sikhs, Malayalees and Bengalis to celebrate the traditional new year in mid-April with leaders across the political spectrum wishing the ethnic Indian community for the new year. Special religious events are held in Hindu temples, in Tamil community centers and Gurudwaras. Cultural programs and media events also take place. Its a day of celebration for the Indian community.

 
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